The 190th Street stop on the A train has been our home stop for nearly 11 years now. It’s a curious station… At that point the A train runs under the Hudson Heights hill. It’s pretty much all bedrock at that point and the station is so deep in the hill that you have to take an elevator to the top of the hill to get out onto Fort Washington Ave., where we live. There’s also a long ramp that goes to Bennett Avenue at the bottom of the hill.
Because it’s so deep in bedrock the station has a moderate temperature all year long. It’s one of the coolest places you can be on a hot summer day. There are natural springs in the area so the bedrock at that point is quite damp and wet. The combination of cool temperatures and moisture means the station almost constantly has a damp sheen on the walls and floors. In some areas they’ve have had to build drainage systems to route all the water through areas that are less damaging. The moisture also means a lot of the original metal work (on the stairs, etc.) is rusting badly. You can see the dampness of the floor in the pic below.
The other odd aspect of the station is that it’s not at 190th Street. At the bottom of the hill it lets out north of 192nd Street. Notice on the map where it says the subway station is, but the red X’s are where the actual subway entrances are.
But then again the 191st Street stop on the 1 train actually lets out on Broadway south of 190th Street (though it is between 190 and 191 where it lets out on St. Nicolas Ave on top of Fort George Hill).
The map is wrong in other aspects as well, Fort Tryon Park, shown in green actually extends to the east and the subway station is under (and in) the park.
Coming out of the 190th Street station onto Ft. Washington Ave. is a wonderful experience (relative to exiting most other stations). You come out into Fort Tryon Park with Jacob Javits Playground just across the street. There are trees everywhere – everything is green and leafy. There are ping pong tables, a playground, volleyball courts and then the entrance to the Heather Gardens and the main portion of Fort Tryon Park all either adjacent to or across the street from the subway entrance. After spending a day in the concrete, steel and glass canyons of midtown, you feel like you’ve come home to a little oasis – just a short subway ride away.
In the picture below you can see the roof of the stone building the elevators come up into (it’s quite a bit bigger than it needs to be for some reason). You can see the volleyball courts to the east (right), and the playground across the street, the heather gardens to the north, and our coop to the south. But notice all the trees… In addition, the large building across the street and to the southwest is the shrine of Mother Cabrini – the patron saint of immigrants. Her body (minus the head) is in a glass casket under the altar.
In terms of how long it takes to get here. If the train has no delays, it’s a 20 minute ride to Times Square. Plan on 45 minutes door to door to most places in Midtown West, Chelsea and the West Village. The biggest reason for it being pretty quick is because the A train has no stops between 125th Street and 59th Street (3.3 miles).
The 190th Street stop does need some renovation however. Parts of it are crumbling. Including the steel railings on the stairs, and the concrete surrounding the steel i-beams between the train tracks. The paint on the walls is probably 15-20 layers deep in some areas and constantly peeling. The MTA generally does a decent job controlling grafitti, but otherwise the maintenance is minimal.
Back when I was a student at Fordham University 1972-76, I used to use the station ofen because my girlfriend lived their. When I exited the elevator and walked into the plaza, I was amazed to find mosiac tile on the courtyard floor in the form of swastikas as a border around the courtyard.
Then I remember that the IND subway was built around 1930 before Hitler, and the swastika was an indian good luck sign made popular by 1910 spirituualist like Madame Blatvatsky. Also, WW1 soldiers used to put them on their helmits for good luck. Are the swasyika still on the plaza floor?
I remember seeing those swastikas I believe they have been covered by red tiles but not 100% sure